SENATE OF THE FACULTY, February 11, 1999

  The Senate of the Faculty met in the Union Rooms 404 A-B.

 Present: D. Adler (1), J. Aubrey (PP), M.L. Baggett (1P), T. Bates, A. Bomba (PP), J. Bradley (PP), G. Buskes (P), B. Choinski, W. Cleland, M. Deighton (PP), A. Elsherbeni (P), C. Esposito, R. Ethridge (P), D. Feller (PP), A. Fisher-Wirth (1PP), V. Frierson-Adams, D. Graves (1), L. Hanshaw (2P), S. Hargrove (3 P), L. Harper, L. Kravitz (1P), F.Laurenzo, T. McCarty (1), M. Overby (1PP), L. Pittman (4), K. Raber (1P), J. Rimoldi, K. Sufka (P), C. Taylor, M. Tew, M. Vinson (PP), Jay Watson (P), John Watson (1PP), J. Williamson.

Absent: J. Cassidy* (PP), S. Conlon* (2P), R. Dorsey (7), P. Goggans* (P), R. Gordon (3), K. Green* (1PPP), R. Haws (6 P), R. Klein* (P),), K. McKee (1), L. McLary (1PP), J. Mizenko* (1PPPPP), J. Murray (7), A. Paterson (2P), J. S. Payne (1P), T. J. Ray* (PP), W. Rayburn (7), J. Reidy* (1PPP), E. Sisson* (3PPP), M. Slattery* (PPPP), H. Sloan (7), L. Smith (2PP), D. Sullivan-Gonzalez (4P), M. Van Boening* (3P), R. Westmoreland* (1PPP), C. Williford (3).

 Chair Williamson called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. when it was determined that a quorum was present. He announced that the March meeting, which would fall during Spring Break, must be re-scheduled. After a brief discussion, the group decided that the third Thursday, March 18, is the best alternative.

 On a motion by Sen. Tew (2nd J. Aubrey), the minutes of the January 11, 1999 meeting were approved.

 Sen. Harper introduced an alternate resolution to that introduced at the January 11 meeting, amending By-Laws Section 11, "Meetings of the Senate." (Motion: L. Harper, 2nd J. Aubrey) This amendment would add the following sentences (italicized) to the end of paragraph a:

a. The regular monthly meeting of the Senate shall be held on the second Thursday of each month, provided classes are in session on that day. The meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m. and will end at or before 9:00 p.m.

By the first Thursday in August, the Executive Committee shall establish a calendar of regular monthly meetings for the next twelve months, setting alternate meeting dates for those months in which classes are not in session on the second Thursday.

There shall be no regular meeting of the Senate in June or July, but the Executive Committee shall meet during those months.

The rationale for this change is to establish a calendar of ten meetings at the beginning of the fall semester by setting alternate meeting dates for those months in which classes are not in session on the second Thursday. It addresses the issue of low attendance at June and July meetings. These will not be months with regular meetings; instead, the Executive Committee would be required to meet both months and could call special "extraordinary" meetings of the Senate as needed.

Sen. Tew offered an amendment, which was accepted, to insert "and times" after "alternate meeting dates." The amended resolution was approved by a voice vote.

Sen. Aubrey requested that the annual calendar of meetings be posted on the Senate web page.

The next agenda item was to discuss the draft "Revision of the Student Evaluation of Teaching Form" produced by an ad hoc committee chaired by Dr. Daniel Mattern. The draft can be found at the following web site:

Sen. Williamson explained that the administration wants to encourage students to write comments on the back of the survey. Whether these written comments would go only to the teacher, and not to chairs or deans, is at present an unresolved issue. The literature on teaching evaluations indicates that negative comments have a disproportionate impact in the mind of the reader – a very few negative comments would tend to outweigh many positive comments. Statistical summaries have been used in Tenure/Promotion decisions. The intended use of the revised form is to give feedback to faculty seeking improve their teaching and to provide information for administrators in T/P evaluations and for students to view on the web.

In the discussion, many senators expressed concerns about sending the written comments to chairs and deans, though at least one senator voiced the contrary view that written comments are often useful to chairs, when used constructively. Several senators voiced concerns about the possibility of grade inflation – that teachers may give higher grades to get better evaluations. Also, what if the survey instrument measures traditional teaching styles, and the instructor is experimenting with non-traditional methods?

Sen. Williamson remarked that the IDEA forms give a lot of good statistical information, but some think the cost (over $50,000) is too high. He also thinks that conscientious faculty will use the comments for self-improvement, whether the comments are shared with administrators or not. There are many differences of opinion on this issue. Dr. Mattern should be commended for his thorough efforts to examine teaching evaluation instruments used at other universities.

Sen. Hanshaw observed that IDEA statistical analysis is flawed when evaluating instruction in small classes. Sen. Elsherbeni asked if the evaluations should be administered before or after grades have been given? Should individual responses be correlated with grades received? JW: If the evaluation were administered via the web, that kind of information could be recorded, but student would surrender anonymity. Then could we ask what grade they anticipate receiving? Sen. Elsherbeni questioned the timing of the evaluations, at the end of the semester, near finals when everyone is stressed.

Sen. Adler cautioned that the two functions of feedback to teacher vs. use in T/P reviews should be separated. Studies in law schools show that minorities, women, and people with unpopular views do disproportionately worse. Feedback on teaching effectiveness is good. But untenured faculty, who are most vulnerable to improper use of the data by administrators, may not feel free to voice objections.

Another senator remarked that the gender or ethnicity of the instructors and students should be correlated. He believes that male students rate female instructors highly, and minority students would rate same-race instructors more favorably.

Sen. Williamson concluded the discussion with a plea for everyone to send Dan Mattern feedback via e-mail. He also observed that if this is the only method used to evaluate an individual’s teaching, it shouldn’t be used. But the committee's intent is for the summary to be only one element in a teacher’s portfolio.

The remainder of the meeting was devoted to a final revision of the Standing Committee draft. The resulting document can be viewed at:


At 9:00 p.m. Sen. Tew moved a suspension of the rules to continue the meeting past 9:00. (2nd J. Rimoldi) The motion passed with a voice vote. At the conclusion of the revision efforts, a motion by Sen. Taylor to approve the document as revised (2nd: Graves) was passed by a voice vote.

Sen. Hargrove reported on the Provost search. The following four finalists will be interviewed in the next two weeks: Dr. David Shrock, Dean of Business at he University of South Carolina, on Feb. 15-16; Dr. Thomas Handley, Engineering Dean at the University of Louisville, on Feb. 18-19; Dr. Jimmy Solomon, Dean of the College of Science and Technology at Georgia Southern, on Feb. 22-23; and Dr. Carolyn Ellis Staton on Feb. 25-26. There will be faculty forums with each candidate. Their vitae will be on the web.

Sen. Williamson announced that this year there should be some money for faculty raises. He wants to make a proposal to the Chancellor about how the raises should be distributed to faculty vs. administrators. Please send him your suggestions.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:10 p.m. The Senate’s next meeting will be Thursday, March 18, 1999 at 7:00 p.m.



Approved: March 18, 1999